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The Persian Mede captivity 
539 B.C.- 331 B.C. 




The new masters of the ancient world belonged to the East 
Indians, children ofElam see Genesis 10:22 and Esther 1:1. They were known as the 
Persians. This 5th-cent. B.C. glazed brick frieze is from the harem of Xerxes, the royal 
household at Persepolis. Their beards are carefully arranged in little curls in Persian 
tashion. At the heart of the imperial Persian army was the elite bodyguard known as the 
Ten Thousand Immortals, whose ranks included Medes, or Elamites. However the 
Israelite, Zerubbabel of the tribe of Judah was one of the Kings top 3 Bodyguards read 
1 st Esdras 3:4,& 4:13. 




iplcd with 



The ten thousand Immortals 

The 'Immortals', were the elite of the Persian army. 
They were hand picked for their bravery and so rewarded. 
Their name coming from the way their number never fell 
below ten thousand. The division was always kept up to full 
strength, retired or fallen soldiers were always replaced. In this 
way their strength was always 10,000 men, never more or 
never less. Entry to the ranks of the Immortals was restricted 
to those with Mede or Elamite ancestory. Exceptions were 
made however for those with exceptional fighting skills 
loyalty to the King. 



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Their appearance was said to be 
magnificance, they glittered with 
gold armlets and necklaces, vast 
quantities of which they wore about 
their persons The elaborate robes 
seen on the stone reliefs at 
Persepolis and glazed tiles of Susa 
are considered to be their parade 
dress, on campaign they wore the 
more practical Median dress. This 
included a richly embroided knee- 
length tunic, a tiara to cover the 
head, (a soft woollen or felt cap) 
and a corset with metal plates or 
scales worn under his tunic. 

Two of the Ten Thousand 
Immortals, glazed bricks from the 
Palace of Artaxerxes at Susa, 
Achaemenian ... 
Courtesy of the Musee du Louvre, 

Paris; photograph, Cliche Musees Nationaux, Paris 

1" Esdras 3:1: Now when Darius reigned, he made a great feast unto all his subjects, and 

unto all his household, and unto all the princes of Media and Persia, 

2: And to all the governors and captains and lieutenants that were under him, from India 

unto Ethiopia, of an hundred twenty and seven provinces. 

3: And when they had eaten and drunken, and being satisfied were gone home, then 

Darius the king went into his bedchamber, and slept, and soon after awaked. 

4: Then three young men, that were of the guard that kept the king's body, spake one to 

another; 

The King had declared a contest among the Immortal guardsmen regarding what is 
strongest upon the earth and that the wisest of them shall be granted riches and wealth. 
They each wrote 

f Esdras 4:13: Then the third, who had spoken of women, and of the truth, (this was 
Zerubbabel) began to speak. 

Zenibbabel was declared wisest of all. 

I st Esdras 4:42: Then said the king unto him, Ask what thou wilt more than is appointed 
in the writing, and we will give it thee, because thou art found wisest; and thou shalt sit 
next me, and shalt be called my cousin. 

43: Then said he unto the king, Remember thy vow, which thou hast vowed to build 
Jerusalem, in the day when thou earnest to thy kingdom, 



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44: And to send away all the vessels that were taken away out of Jerusalem, which Cyrus 

set apart,. when he vowed to destroy Babylon, and to send them again thither. 

45: Thgu also hast vowed to*build up the temple, which the Edomites burned when Judea 

was made desolate by the Chaldees. 

46: And now, O lord the king, this is that which I require, and which I desire of thee, and 

this is the princely liberality proceeding from thyself: I desire therefore that thou make 

good the vow, the performance whereof with thine own mouth thou hast vowed to the 

King of heaven. 

47: Then Darius the king stood up, and kissed him, and wrote letters for him unto all the 

treasurers and lieutenants and captains and governors, that they should safely convey on 

their way both him, and all those that go up with him to build Jerusalem. 



As the policy of Assyrian and Babylonian kings had been to deport conquered peoples to 
other parts of the empire, the Persian policy was the opposite and much more humane. 
They would send captives back to their land, as mentioned on the fired clay Persian 
"Cyrus Cylinder" as follows: 



. Wk 




". . . to Ashur and Susa, Agade, Ashnunnak, Zamban, Meturnu, Deri, with the territory of 
the Laid ofGutium, the cities on the other side of the Tigris . . . the gods who dwelt in 
them, I brought back to their places . . . all their inhabitants I collected and restored them 
to their dwelling places . . . I liberated those who dwelt in Babylon from the yoke that 
chafed them . . . I am Cyrus, king of all things, the great king . . . king of all the earth ..." 
He also declares that he made good the wrong done by his predecessors by sending 
captives home, helping in the rebuilding of their temples and the return of their gods. 
This edict included the Jews. No doubt God had ordained Cyrus, who was a noble and 
just monarch, to issue a decree releasing the Jews. The remarkably powerful prophesy of 
Isaiah is captivating in the light of history for it was written 150 years before Cyrus: 
Isaiah 44:28-45:1 

Who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to 
Jerusalem, "You shall be built, " and to the temple, "Your foundation shall be laid. " "Thus 
says the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held— to subdue 
nations before him and loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, so 
that the gates will not be shut ..." 



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1 M* 



* Persia was the mountainous plateau to the east of the lower Tigris- 

Euphrates Valley. The Persian empire was larger than the Babylonian and Assyrian 
empires, e tending eastward to India and reaching westward to Greece. Its capitals were 
Persepo'is and Susa. As a world empire it lasted 200 years (539-331 B.C.) 



The Medes and Persians ruled jointly, sometimes called the -Persian-Mede Empire 
because the Persians became greater. 

r xead Daniel 7:5, three main Babylonian strongholds they overthrew were Egypt, 
Ethiopia and Sabea; read Isaiah 45:14. 



The Persian Kings were: 

Cyrus (538-529 B.C.) Conquered Babylon and allowed the Jews to return. 

Cambyses (529-522 B.C.) Stopped work on the Temple. 

Darius I (521-485 B.C.) Authorized completion of the Temple. 

Xerxes (Ahasuerus) (485-465 B.C.) Esther was his Queen. 

Artaxerxes I (465-425 B.C.) Authorized Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem. 

Xerxes II (424 B.C.) 

Darius II (423-405 B.C.) 

Artaxerxes II (405-358 B.C.) 

Artaxerxes III (358-338 B.C.) 

Arses P38-335) 

Darius III (335-331 B.C.) He was defeated by Alexander the Great (331 B.C.) at the 

famous battle of Arbela, near Nineveh. This was the fall of Persia and the rise of Greece. 



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The Return from Babylon 




The people of Judah were horribly distressed. They lost their home, 
Iheif city, their pride, their Temple, the ark of the covenant, and they were taken as 
prisoneis to Babylon, the homeland of idolatry. But God raised up great men to remind 
them of Jeremiah's prophesies, that they would only be there for 70 years. Babylon would 
not be their home: 

Jeremiah 29:10-14 

For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you 
and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know 
the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to 
give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I 
will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all 
your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your 
captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have 
driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which 1 cause you to be 
carried away captive. " 

They would return and the temple would be rebuilt, and the Messiah would still come. 
Daniel and Ezekiel sought to keep the true faith alive. 

The Decree of Cyrus 

By i38 BC. Babylon had passed into history and the Medo-Persian Empire took its place. 
Cyras the Persian issued a decree to allow the Jews to go back to their land, and with the 
blessing of The Persian Empire. 

*According to Ezra 1:3-6, A portion of Judah, Benjamin and Levi returned along 
with a small remnant of the other 10 tribes returned to repopulate Israel. Another 
portion of the Israelites remained in the lands of their captivity now having liberty 
and yet another portion of the 10 tribes came to the so called Americas- read 2 nd 
Esdras 13:40-47. 

Zerubbabel 

The first move back to Israel was led by Zerubbabel, of the house of David. He was the 
only one of royal blood to pay any attention to the decree of Cyrus (Ezra 2) in accordance 
to the Most Highs prophecies. When he returned, he found just rubble. No temple, torn 
down walls, and strange nations put their by the Assyrians, 
read 2 Kings 17:24-34. 



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The strange nations claimed to believe in the Most High and wanted to 

help build the Temple. 

Ezra 4:1: Now when the adversaries ofJudah and Benjamin heard that the children of 

the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel; 

2: Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let 

us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the 

days of Esar-haddon king ofAssur, which brought us up hither. 

3: But Zerubbabel, and Joshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto 

them,. Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves 

together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath 

commanded us. 

4: Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people ofJudah, and troubled 

them in building, 

Zerubbabel laid the foundations for a new temple, built an altar and worshipped the Lord. 
The prophets Haggai and Zechariah taught Israel not to lose hope and urged the Jews to 
help budd the temple. They finished the work on the Temple in 516 BC. (Exactly 70 
yeavs). 

Ezra and Nehemiah 

58 years later (458 BC) more Jews returned (Ezra 7) under the leadership of Ezra. 12 
years later, Nehemiah, requested permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and to 
govern Judea. He arrived in 444 BC. Despite much opposition, Nehemiah completed this 
seemingly hopeless task in 52 days. Then a revival followed. Ezra and Nehemiah 
canonized the books of the Old Testament. They read aloud to the people and gave 
interpretation. About 40 years later, the prophet Malachi condemned the people for 
slipping back into their sinful ways. 





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